In order to protect the long-term health of sage-grouse populations, review new science and comply with court direction, the Bureau of Land Management is beginning a process to consider updates to the range-wide management plans for sagebrush habitat adopted in 2015 and amended in 2019. More than 70 resource management plans currently guide habitat conservation and restoration on 67 million acres of greater sage-grouse habitat the bureau manages in 10 Western states.
Safeguarding sagebrush habitat is considered essential to the long-term health of sage-grouse populations as well as more than 350 other species, which continue to experience pressure from development and a variety of factors, including invasive grasses, wildfire and drought exacerbated by climate change. In 2015, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service cited the protections provided by conservation efforts in the federal land management plans, from states and from other federal, state and private parties, to determine that listing the greater sage-grouse to secure Endangered Species Act protections was not warranted.
“The BLM is committed to reversing long-term downward trends in sage-grouse populations and habitats in a manner that fulfills our multiple-use and sustained yield mission and meets the needs of Western communities,” said BLM Director Tracy Stone-Manning. “We remain dedicated to working closely with states, local governments, Tribes and other partners who have worked in a collaborative and bipartisan fashion for more than a decade toward sustainable and balanced management of sagebrush habitat.”
In its review, the BLM will examine new scientific information, including the effects of stressors like climate change, to assess what management actions may best support sagebrush habitat conservation and restoration on public lands to benefit sage-grouse, as well as the people who rely on this landscape to support their livelihoods and traditions. A related effort to evaluate the proposed withdrawal of public and Forest System lands in sagebrush focal areas from mineral location and entry is already underway.
“The 2015 plans established a solid foundation, but actions during the previous administration kept those plans from being put into action,” Stone-Manning said. “As we move to build upon the earlier plans, we are asking whether there are other steps we should take given new science to improve outcomes for sage-grouse and also for people in communities across the west who rely on a healthy sagebrush steppe.”
Information on how to comment and relevant documents can be found here: https://go.usa.gov/xMtJQ.